Busan: Kross Pictures Finds Fertile Ground in India-Korea Remakes

For years, South Korea’s high-concept feature movies, including prominent titles such as “Oldboy,” have been ripped off, plagiarized and blatantly copied by some companies in India.

Now, Korean producer and packaging company Kross Pictures is busily turning Korean films and intellectual property into a viable business in India.

Headed by Thomas Kim Hyunwoo, a former investment banker and L.A.-based Disney executive, Kross last year produced Amitabh Bachchan-vehicle “Te3n” as an authorized remake of 2013 Korean crime drama “Montage.” It now has 10 other Korea-to-India projects at different stages of development.

“Our model is about obtaining and controlling established IP, with a view to packaging it for film and TV,” said Kim, speaking at the Busan Film Festival’s Asian Film Market. China and Vietnam are among the other markets Kross is targeting, though India is arguably the most promising. “We see many commonalities along with the cultural differences.”

Kross Pictures India is currently producing “The Devotion of Suspect X,” a well-known Japanese detective story by Keigo Higashino, as an eight-part TV series for a global streaming platform. Kross previously re-conceived the same property as a feature film that was released earlier this year in China, and grossed $59.3 million.

It also has hired Umesh Shukla (“OMG Oh My God”) to direct “Cell No. 7,” an Indian remake of Korean melodrama “Miracle in Cell No. 7,” about a mentally challenged father wrongly jailed for rape. Among its other Korea-to-India titles is “A Hard Day.”

Kross’ response to India’s copyright theft problem is to sue. “I used to be a banker. I’m not afraid to go after people. We’ve won two cases so far,” said Kim.

The company can also see opportunities for Indian content to work in Korea and other markets, and now has full-time staff in Mumbai scouting for properties. Among its first is a Korean remake of “Kahaani,” a breakout Indian thriller which was written Sujoy Ghosh, who is now writing and producing the Indian “Suspect X.” The Korean “Kahaani” is casting now.

Currently tense political relations between South Korea and China could put a short-term crimp on Kross’ model, but Kim does not believe that it will be halted. “First of all there are always creative ways to deal with such problems. And, anyway, things change.”

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